Sunday, September 10, 2006

Considering Paddy Mac's source

Sometimes this is just too easy.

Patrick McIlheran, the Journal Sentinel's home-grown conservative columnist, suggests Sunday that requiring photo ID cards will increase voter turnout.

Here's how Paddy Mac describes his source for that remarkable claim:
John R. Lott Jr. suggests otherwise. He's an economist who raised eyebrows some years ago with data showing that more legal gun possession can reduce crime. He published a paper last month looking for effects from voter-ID requirements.
Lott, the National Rifle Association's favorite scholar, certainly has raised some eyebrows. He has quite a national reputation -- as a fraud.

An editor's commentary from Science magazine summarizes the situation pretty well:
Here is John Lott: ex-University of Chicago Law School, now at the American Enterprise Institute. His book More Guns, Less Crime claims that on 98% of the occasions in which citizens use guns defensively, the mere production of a weapon causes the criminal to desist. These data were allegedly based on some 2000 interviews conducted by Lott himself. But when pushed for the survey data, Lott gave a hauntingly familiar explanation: His hard drive had been destroyed in a computer crash. Apparently the dogs in this controversy eat everyone's homework.

Wait. It gets even funnier. As the debate over gun laws spilled over from the scholarly journals to the Internet, Lott was defended passionately by a persistent ally named Mary Rosh. She attacked Lott's academic critics, including John Donohue of Stanford Law School, claiming in one posting that Lott had been the "best professor I ever had." Alas for Lott and his case, Mary Rosh now turns out to be -- John Lott!
There is an entire Who is Mary Rosh? website devoted to all things John Lott. It's filled with highly entertaining stories about John Lott, and his fan, Mary Rosh. Here's a snippet from the August 2006 issue of Chicago magazine:
...Lott also stirred controversy by examining crime in the United States, turning econometrics toward the question of whether gun-control laws really reduced violent crime. His conclusion—that gun-packing communities were safer—set off howls of protest from gun-control advocates. Critics attacked Lott’s research as technically flawed if not bogus, and he has been defending himself against such charges ever since.

Lott has had to defend himself over an embarrassing gambit, too. In 2001, somebody named Mary Rosh began posting on online forums, gushing over Lott as a writer and teacher: “I had him for a PhD level empirical methods class when he taught at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania back in the early 1990s, well before he gained national attention,” Rosh wrote, for example, “and I have to say that he was the best professor I ever had.” This was posted in, of all places, a chat room about the TV show The West Wing (an episode dealt with gun politics).

The writer with this high regard for John Lott turned out to be . . . John Lott. “Mary Rosh” was an alias derived from the first names of Lott’s sons, Maxim, Ryan, Roger, and Sherwin. Julian Sanchez, a blogger at the libertarian Cato Institute, busted Lott, and The Washington Post broke the story in February 2003. “I probably shouldn’t have done it—I know I shouldn’t have done it—but it’s hard to think of any big advantage I got except to be able to comment fictitiously,” Lott told the Post. He later wrote on his Web site, “I had originally used my own name in chat rooms but switched after receiving threatening and obnoxious telephone calls from other Internet posters.”
Lott has his own blog, which Sunday featured a post and link to McIlheran's column. A mutual admiration society -- Lott, Rosh, and McIlheran. Mary John is moderating comments, so don't bother trying to raise these questions.


At 8:53 PM, Blogger Other Side said...

I checked out Lott's blog. Thought this humorous ... under his Links section he has a local guy listed ... Dad29.

At 8:58 AM, Blogger Mke Tidbits said...

I honestly want to hear Paddy Mac's explanation of this guy's work.

If "Dems" did this the Goppers would have a field day.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Dad29 said...

We note that "personal attacks" are "out of bounds" in political races, per your blog.

Not the case regarding researchers, though, eh?

That's OK. I'm perfectly willing to note that the paper which was released re Iraq/AlQ was written by a Kerry operative, and about 2 grafs of the paper have been printed. There are 72 other pages.

Having said that, are you able to refute Lott's preliminary conclusions? Or are you content to malign his character?

At 10:37 AM, Blogger Other Side said...

Lott maligned his character himself. It's documented. What's the beef?

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Xoff said...

Well, Dad, I can tell you this. Mac thinks it's great that Mexico, with photo ID, had 60% turnout in the presidential race.

In Wisconsin, with same-day registration -- something Green and the GOP want to end -- we had 75% turnout in 2004.

So there may be a fallacy in suggesting more people would vote here if they had photo IDs.

Just speculating, ya know?


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